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The future of Scene

| Friday, August 26, 2016

Part of being a member of the Scene section is being aware of pop culture. I like to think that being in Scene gives me an advantage. It keeps me aware, maybe even hip when it comes to current trends. Lately, I’ve felt otherwise. As a college senior, I’m in the midst of the transition from misunderstood youth to not understanding. I’m realizing that being a twenty-something is a whole lot different from being a teenager.

This  was all too apparent this summer at the Chicago’s Lollapalooza music festival, which contrasted sharply with memories of rocking out to Green Day at my first Lolla. Unable to pass up the back-to-back rockers Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers, I got myself a last minute Saturday pass and took the same commute I had been taking to my internship all summer to spend the day enjoying music.

The bands I had come to see were active through the ’90s, and so attracted the more mature crowd. The interesting experience came when I filled in a mid-day lull by meeting with friends at the infamous Perry’s stage.

Ironically named for the lead singer of Jane’s Addiction who hates electronic dance music (EDM), Perry’s is the wildly popular EDM stage where every Lolla horror story takes place.

Even to a festival-lover, Perry’s was an alien planet. We gathered in the blazing sun, the teenagers and I, to watch a man in a marshmallow head (dubbing himself “Marshmello”) click through the Spotify Top 40 playlist — at least that’s what it sounded like to me.

The patterns on the screen, unimpressive in the shining mid-day sun, mesmerized the crowd. People squealed in excitement at the play-back of hooks from hits they’d heard on their car radio a million times. I didn’t understand.

Even beyond the performance, the atmosphere didn’t make sense to me. Even as someone who appreciates unconventional fashion, I couldn’t stomach walking around wearing a bra as a shirt on the same streets I usually walked to work wearing business casual.

I’m not above rocking out at cheesy punk show or singing along with a pop star. But the scene at Perry’s stage? I couldn’t get into it.

I admit it — I didn’t appreciate the art of this Marshmello character. I’m sure there are many EDM fans who do, and may be offended by the fact that I didn’t. I can see that there’s some value that I’m not getting.

By the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, I could tell that there was a youth movement going on, and at this point in my life, it’s one I’m not a part of. I’m aware of many trends that were “before my time,” but this is the first time I suspect one of being after my time. I’m sure there are many more to come, and hopefully the incoming Scene writers will bring it with them.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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